THE PLAN OF ATTACK
My build plan was set long before I got the car. You can call it Pro Touring, g-Machine, Street Machine, or whatever. I’ve never been much into all the labels bandied about. I envision that it will do little bit of everything well, with an emphasis on handling. I also want to build it on a budget that your average guy can afford.
The big question is, what’s affordable in today’s world?
Bad Penny, my other ’68 Camaro, certainly isn’t considered “affordable” to the average guy, since it’s well into the six-figure range. Some suggested a budget of $20,000, but after some pencil work, that didn’t seem doable considering we would be using new parts. In addition, it would leave us with just over $10,000 to spend after doing the paint and bodywork. My plan also included having the car looking good, not just being fun to thrash on.
So, after much thought, I set the initial budget at $40,000. This would allow me enough cash to make the car look cool as well as haul ass. Some might say that’s too high, but if they did a survey of how much most guys have invested in their hot rods—the real cost and not what they tell their wives—then $40k most likely falls on the lower side of the average build.
With that done, I contacted artist Ben Hermance to help me flesh out the look of the project, now called Track Rat. Hiring an artist to do a rendering of a project is a great help. The money spent up front can help keep you from buying wheels that end up looking wrong on the car or from painting it twice. It also serves as a motivational aid since it provides you with a clear goal. I talked with Ben and explained the overall look I wanted. No chrome; satin paint to keep the cost down; and killer wheels, since they can make or break a car’s looks.
He came up with a Track Rat “tattoo” for the front fenders since it’s something I’ve been itching to do. I contributed the idea of the exposed carbon fiber, but the shape of the stripes, and the addition of the Grand Sport hashmarks were all Ben’s idea—we think he nailed it.
So, we have a car, a smokin’ rendering, and a rough idea of what parts we’ll use. First on the “to do list” will be fixing the body issues and getting her ready for paint; then we’ll start wrenching on parts. Eventually, we will flog it around the track. But for now, we have a ton of
work to do.
The floors were as solid as they were the day they left GM. We did see a slight crinkle in the trans tunnel, most likely caused by the hit to the rear of the car.
One trouble spot was this rear quarter. The missing side-marker hole was my first clue that this quarter wasn’t original. After further study, it became clear that the car had been rear-ended, resulting in a poorly installed quarter, rear panel, and trunk lid. It looked like it was done long enough ago that the panels used were OEM. I went with the assumption that the quarter would need replacement when deciding on buying the car. Think “worst case” and you won’t be surprised down the line.